A Saudi businessman who was designated a terrorist by the United States after the September 11 attacks has sued the US Treasury to remove the label and access frozen assets, his lawyers said on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Yasin Kadi (spelled Qadi in US documents) said they had filed a suit in the Washington DC district court on Friday charging the US with violating the constitution in keeping Kadi's name on a list as a "specially designated global terrorist" without providing proof.
The suit, filed against Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Department, and the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, seeks to remove the designation and restore Kadi's reputation, Cameron Doley of London-based solicitors Carter-Ruck told AFP.
"Notwithstanding the passage of more than seven years, neither the United States nor any other country in the world has brought criminal charges of any kind against Mr Kadi," Doley's office said in a written statement.
Kadi, 53, was listed as a "terrorist" on October 12, 2001 under an order from President George W. Bush because Washington believed he was a financier of Al-Qaeda.
The accusation was based on alleged links he had to businesses and Islamic charities also accused of supporting Al-Qaeda, and his travel in the past to Afghanistan.
One week later Washington persuaded the United Nations to repeat the designation, resulting in Kadi's assets being frozen worldwide and him being unable to leave Saudi Arabia because of an effective travel ban, he and his lawyers told AFP.
"This case is a financial Guantanamo," Kadi told AFP by telephone from his home in Jeddah on Tuesday, referring to the US war-on-terror prison in Cuba.
"They didn't give us any reason why they froze us. This is exactly like a financial Guantanamo."
Kadi denies ever helping Al-Qaeda. His lawyers say that a Swiss court investigation into the allegations was ended after prosecutors found no evidence against him.
In September 2008 a European Court of Justice panel of judges ruled that his "terrorist" designation in the European Union, based on the UN designation, was "unlawful and infringed his fundamental human rights to property, to a fair hearing and to effective judicial review," according to Carter-Ruck.
Kadi says the evidence shown him over the past seven years has never been specific.
"They have only given us very general information ... They say that I am suspected of being a terrorist."
"Seven years of being on a suspicious terrorist group list, it affects your business your life, your health," he said.